Egypt v Uruguay: Luis Suarez set to sparkle while Mo Salah hopes to feature

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 14 June 2018, 12:20

Egypt and Uruguay kick-off Day Two when they lock horns at Yekaterinburg’s Central Stadium in arguably the most eagerly anticipated match in Group A (Friday, 1pm).

Two-time World Cup champions Uruguay (1930 & 1950) have been installed as the 8/13 favourites to open up their campaign with a win, while seven-time African Cup winners Egypt can be backed at 13/2, whereas a draw is priced at 27/10.

Egypt will be led by boss Hector Cuper who will oversee the country’s first World Cup campaign since 1990.

Over on the other side of the dugout is a World Cup veteran in Oscar Tabarez - this will be his fourth tournament - who at the age of 71 is the oldest manager in Russia.

Oscar Tabarez

Pictured: Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez

Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, 45, is set to become the oldest player to ever play at a World Cup, but the main pre-match talking point is of course the fitness of Mo Salah. The Egyptian King injured his shoulder during a tussle with Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final, but after taking part in some light training sessions, he could feature at some point on Friday.

However, boss Cuper insists that Egypt are not just a one man team:

“We’re not Mohamed Salah’s national team, this team has many players who cooperate with each other to reach the best results.

“Egypt is lucky that this generation has one of the best players in the world but our tactics don’t solely revolve around him.”

(Quotes: Egyptian TV)

Outside of the main contenders for World Cup glory you’ll find Uruguay who are many people’s dark horses at 28/1. Eight years ago Tabarez, aka ‘The Teacher', led his pupils to a fourth place finish in South Africa, while they came unstuck against a James Rodriguez inspired Colombia (round-of-16) last time out.

On paper at least, Uruguay should be too strong for their opening opponents Egypt. La Celeste’s all-time leading goalscorer Luis Suarez and his strike partner Edinson Cavani, who have a combined 91 goals for their country, will be gunning for goals and can both be backed at 11/4 to open the scoring at the Central Stadium.

In the only other clash between the countries - back in 2006 (friendly) - Uruguay came out on top 2-0, with the same outcome this time around a tempting price at 5/1.

Egypt are the underdogs, even more so if Salah is absent, but their fans will no doubt be pleased to hear that Uruguay haven’t tasted victory in their opening World Cup game since 1970 - 48 years ago - having drawn three times and lost once.

Under Cuper - who took charge in 2015 - Egypt have never been beaten by two goals or more, but Uruguay possess a potent attack and a strong defence, meaning the African side could well struggle in their pursuit of their first ever World Cup victory.

Prediction: Egypt 0-2 Uruguay

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